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‘Something so hard': a mixed-methods study of home sputum collection for tuberculosis contact investigation in Uganda



Home sputum collection could facilitate prompt evaluation and diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) among contacts of patients with active TB. We analyzed barriers to home-based collection as part of an enhanced intervention for household TB contact investigation in Kampala, Uganda.


We conducted a convergent mixed-methods study to describe the outcomes of home sputum collection in 91 contacts and examine their context through 19 nested contact interviews and two focus group discussions with lay health workers (LHWs).


LHWs collected sputum from 35 (39%) contacts. Contacts reporting cough were more likely to provide sputum than those with other symptoms or risk factors (53% vs. 15%, RR 3.6, 95%CI 1.5-2.8, P < 0.001). Males were more likely than females to provide sputum (54% vs. 32%, RR 1.7, 95%CI 1.0-2.8, P = 0.05). Contacts said support from the index patient and the convenience of the home visit facilitated collection. Missing containers and difficulty producing sputum spontaneously impeded collection. Women identified stigma as a barrier. LHWs emphasized difficulty in procuring sputum and discomfort pressing contacts to produce sputum.


Home sputum collection by LHWs entails different challenges from sputum collection in clinical settings. More research is needed to develop interventions to mitigate stigma and increase success of home-based collection.

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